In The Know: School officials reeling over less funding than expected

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

School administrators were shocked that they’ll be receiving less in state aid this academic year than they received last year, after the State Dept. of Education held back $64M for new charter schools.  The OK Policy Blog previously explained why ‘flat’ funding inevitably puts the squeeze on school budgets.  Another lawmaker protested plans to allocate $2M to a youth livestock expo, arguing that it’s unconstitutional to fund a private charity.

An editorial in the Oklahoman explained why the state’s lack of bond debt actually results in a lower credit rating, because it suggests a neglect of basic infrastructure.  OK Policy hosted a guest blog from former Senate President Pro Tem Cal Hobson on why Oklahoma’s reluctance to issue bonds is counterintuitive and ultimately costs us money.  Advocates urged lawmakers to carefully consider an interim study on abuse and neglect at the state’s veteran centers.

Gov. Fallin appointed a police chief and a university administrator to fill vacancies on the governing board of the Department of Human Services.  A guest post on the OK Policy Blog reviewed evidence that the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) not only lifts children out of poverty, it also improves their performance in school and better prepares them to be productive workers.

A former jailer at a Muskogee County Detention facility is being held on federal charges following a second assault on an inmate, in which he remotely unlocked a cell door and urged another detainee to beat the man inside.  In today’s Policy Note, ProPublica breaks-down the composition of ‘fracking’ water with an interactive infographic; the tool uses data from a 2011 congressional report on oil and natural gas drilling.  The Number of the Day is the unemployment rate in Oklahoma for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

In The News

Schools shocked by more cuts

School administrators are reeling from news that they will receive less money to start the academic year because the Oklahoma State Department of Education is reserving more money for anticipated growth, namely at virtual schools and new charter schools.  Because the state Legislature allocated the same amount for state aid to schools as they received for last year, schools were expecting to see similar dollar amounts listed in the initial state aid notices that hit their mailboxes this week.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Agriculture secretary urged to halt funding of OKC youth livestock show

A state lawmaker called Thursday for Agriculture Commissioner Jim Reese to block $2 million in state funding from going to a private Oklahoma City youth livestock show, saying an expensive lawsuit is likely otherwise.  The funding for the Oklahoma Youth Expo – part of the state budget agreement between Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders earlier this year – is unconstitutional and inappropriate, Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, says in a Thursday letter to Reese.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Oklahoma’s credit ratings good, but could be better

A listing of Standard & Poor’s credit ratings history for all 50 states shows Oklahoma is in good shape with an AA+ rating, the second-best given by S&P. Only 13 states have higher ratings, and 22 are rated lower.  One thing preventing Oklahoma from achieving S&P’s top rating is that we don’t have more bonded indebtedness. That may surprise some, but ratings agencies see that as a sign of neglect of basic infrastructure. The failure to maintain and address core needs today means higher expenses tomorrow.

Read more from NewsOK at

Fourth Reading: A letter to House Speaker Kris Steele

So here’s my request. Please allow members of the House to spend the entire interim gathering information, taking testimony, looking at documents and speaking with veterans and their families. Meeting two times a week isn’t a problem. If the meetings need to be an hour or so, so be it, but hold as many meetings as possible, please. Across this state, veterans are being abused, neglected and harmed while living at state veterans centers. Many of the staff members at these centers are hardworking, dedicated and honestly trying to take good care of Oklahoma’s veterans. But there are others who are not so dedicated.

Read more from the Journal Record

Fallin appoints 2 to Okla. Dept. of Human Services

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has appointed a police chief and a university administrator to fill two vacancies on the governing board of the Department of Human Services.  Fallin late Thursday named Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes and University of Central Oklahoma administrator Myron Pope to the nine-member panel that oversees the agency that provides services to vulnerable children, the elderly and disabled Oklahomans.

Read more from KTUL at

Guest Post (Indivar Dutta-Gupta): EITC Even Better for Children than We Thought

We previously showed that the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low-income workers lifts more children out of poverty than any other public program.  More recent research suggests that the income assistance it provides is even better for children — our nation’s future workforce — than we thought, helping them succeed both as students and, in adulthood, as workers.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

Phillip Oliver pleaded guilty to beating fellow inmate for jailer

Lane faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for both the conspiracy and civil rights offenses.  On Oct. 6, 2011, Lane had Oliver beat up the inmate, Roberts said.  Lane’s indictment states he told Oliver to “go in there and do what you gotta do.”  Lane promised Oliver he would cover for him if Oliver got in trouble for punching the inmate. Lane then popped open the restrained inmate’s cell door so Oliver could enter, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Read more from the Muskogee Phoenix at

Quote of the Day

What I know is our school district grew in total number of students, yet we received less state aid. We were told this was a flat budget year, so I was expecting flat to mean flat, not negative.

Kyle Wood, Superintendent of Bixby Public Schools

Number of the Day

8.9 percent

The unemployment rate in Oklahoma for veteran’s of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, compared to 6.2 percent unemployment for the state overall during the same period, 2011

Source: Senate Joint Economic Committee

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

What the Frack is in That Water?

Environmentalists have repeatedly pressed regulators to compel oil and gas companies to report what chemicals they use in the drilling and fracking process. Drilling companies add these chemicals to perform particular functions (for example, to prevent corrosion or give the fluid the right consistency), or leave them in because they’re too expensive to remove. According to a 2011 congressional report, many of the chemicals used can pose a serious health risk. No one knows the exact makeup of the frack mixture, drilling muds and other stuff used at well sites (which change from well to well), but this list breaks down the main ingredients revealed so far.

Read more at ProPublica

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


One thought on “In The Know: School officials reeling over less funding than expected

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.